The new MINI 2014 has been revealed. One of the most iconic cars in the world, the MINI has a new look and is the most revolutionary yet. There’s a new design, a radical range of three and four-cylinder engines, more hi-tech kit than ever before and a production site that’s still firmly rooted in Oxford.
We've been to see the all-new MINI first-hand, and you can watch our video review of the car's features below.
Boss of Mini, Peter Schwarzenbauer, announced the arrival of the new car, which goes into production here later this week. Cooper D, Cooper and Cooper S models will go on sale first.
The new model promises improved safety with head up display, plus variable damper control for the first time. The MINI also debuts BMW’s new front-wheel-drive platform architecture – called UKL1 – which will underpin a total of 10 MINI and BMW models.
The new MINI has a March 2014 release date and a starting price of £15,300, but first up, and arguably the most important part of any new MINI, is the styling, which can be seen in our exclusive pictures, shot in a studio ahead of the official unveiling.
The rounded headlights, tiny overhangs and compact proportions are all trademark MINI. But you’ll notice that there’s a new semi-circle of LED daytime running lights in the headlamps – which can be upgraded to full LEDs as an option. Plus, the tail-lights are now far larger, like those found on the Countryman crossover.
We came to terms long ago with MINI not really meaning mini, and this latest has the biggest MINI dimensions yet. At 3,821mm long, it’s 98mm longer than the outgoing model, as well as being 44mm wider and 7mm taller.
Within those increases is a wheelbase extended by 28mm and a track widened by 42mm at the front and 34mm at the rear. The net effect is a car that is not only more spacious inside but should ride and handle better, too.
Proof of the MINI’s new focus on practicality comes with the news that boot space has increased from 160 litres to a more usable 211 litres. Plus, there’s an optional storage package, which includes a multi-level boot floor and rear seats that can be tilted to increase passenger or luggage space as required.
A recurring feature of the MINI’s interior has been the large centrally mounted speedo – until now, that is. The MkIII hatch is the first to ditch it, with the outer speedo ring replaced by LEDs.
These work in conjunction with things like the parking sensors, glowing green, yellow or red depending on how much space owners have to park the car. The LEDs will also glow blue, orange or red depending on which programme in the new MINI Driving Modes set-up is selected. This option debuts on the new hatch and allows drivers to swap between the standard MID mode to SPORT or GREEN. The latter enables owners to ‘coast’ on the motorway and will change the settings of the automatic box. The LEDs are also hooked up to the optional sat-nav system so the ring of glowing lights will gradually get smaller as you approach a turning you're supposed to take.
Speed, revs and remaining fuel all now sit in the driver’s eyeline, while the large circular centre console will include a four-line TFT display in its most basic form, but can be specced up to a colour screen measuring in at up to 8.8 inches. Infotainment is controlled by a simple rotary dial or an upgraded touch-sensitive dial that lets owners ‘write’ in individual letters when entering things like sat-nav addresses.
Current MINI owners will notice that the start-stop button has now moved on to the centre console, in the form of a red switch. As you step in to the cabin it will pulse like a heartbeat. The familiar airline-style toggle switches remain for some functions but you'll no longer have to reach if you want to wind down your window – MINI has moved the controls from the centre console and on to the armrests like on most other cars.
Engineers have also worked to improve the MINI’s ride and handling, with a new suspension set-up said to offer improved “acoustic refinement in the cabin” and “eliminate vibrations from the road surface”. The good news for us is that it’s been tested extensively on UK roads. There’s a new Variable Damper Control option, which allows drivers to pick between a comfortable or sporty set-up.
Initially, the familiar Cooper, Cooper D and Cooper S line-up will be offered, with each getting one of BMW’s family of modular engines. We've been promised that the basic MINI One – an entry-level point to the range – will be introduced in the summer along with a flagship MINI Cooper S JCW, featuring more extreme tuning for the suspension and more power from the flagship 2.0-litre turbocharged engine. Bosses also told us expect a five-door version of the standard hatch for the first time, arriving towards the end of 2014. Next up will be the convertible and the Clubman variants, both hitting the road in 2015.
The Cooper and Cooper D use 1.5-litre three-cylinders – one petrol and one diesel. In the Cooper, power is up from 122bhp to 134bhp, which slashes the 0-62mph time from 9.1 seconds to 7.9 seconds. In the Cooper D, power is up by 2bhp to 114bhp, which trims the sprint time by half a second to 9.2 seconds.
Both cars are more efficient, with the Cooper D the cleanest of the bunch. It manages up to 80mpg-plus, with CO2 emissions as low as 92g/km. The Cooper promises 62.8mpg economy. Meanwhile, the flagship Cooper S has had its 1.6-litre turbo replaced by a 2.0-litre turbo from the same modular family, with power increasing from 181bhp to 189bhp. That cuts the 0-62mph time by two tenths to 6.8 seconds, but fuel economy has also improved from 49.0mpg to 49.6mpg.
Buyers now have a choice of three six-speed gearboxes: a manual – which can mimic heel-and-toe downshifts – an auto and a sports auto – a dual-clutch gearbox that comes complete with shorter shift times and rev-matching downshifts. When paired up with the MINI Cooper S it cuts the 0-62mph time and boosts the fuel economy when compared with the standard six-speed manual.
But going for an auto doesn’t mean a huge jump in emissions or a big dent in economy, as it does on the outgoing model.
The new MINI Cooper will go on sale in the spring, with a starting price from £15,300 – the current one costs £14,900 – while the Cooper D sees a similar hike to £16,450 and the Cooper S starts at £18,650. Those price rises reflect around a 2% increase.
MINI buyers get a bit more standard kit for their money, though, such as keyless go, isofix seats in the front and rear, and Bluetooth. And as ever, there is lots of scope for personalisation, with a list of options including a John Cooper Works spoiler, contrasting mirrors and a set of roof rails for the first time. Plus, there are hi-tech features such as head-up display and traffic sign recognition.